On Thursday 11th July Bath and North East Somerset Council voted unanimously to express serious concerns about the development of unconventional gas in the area, to research it fully and to explore measures to control and if appropriate prevent its development.
The text of the full motion is set our here:
Fracking in Bath and North East Somerset
• Notes the work already undertaken by the Council in relation to Fracking within Bath and North East Somerset and neighbouring areas, including the Council’s response to Somerset’s Minerals Preferred Planning Options, agreed by Cabinet in April 2013, and the Council Commissioned report by the British Geological Survey.
• Understands that the use of shale gas and coal bed methane has the potential to make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy needs in the coming decades during the period of transition from use of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and could enable Britain to become more energy independent.
• Recognises the responsibility that the Council has to protect the unique hot springs, and the World Heritage Site for future generations as set out in the County of Avon Act 1982 and the Royal Charter of 1591.
• Welcomes the additional safeguards as set out by the Secretary of State in December 2012. (Ref: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/written-ministerial-statement-by-edward-davey-exploration-for-shale-gas).
• Therefore has serious concerns about the potential impact of unconventional gas exploration and extraction, as well as geothermal exploitation, within Bath and North East Somerset, in particular relating to:
– the vulnerability of the hot springs which supply Bath’s spa water and the potential risk to the supply of hot spring water;
– its potential impact in an area significantly covered by Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site;
– the importance of protecting the reservoir water supply in the Chew Valley.
• Notes the dangers such as those outlined in the British Geological Survey report, including the serious risk that deep well Shale Gas exploration and inappropriate geothermal energy exploitation poses a to the hot springs.
• Believes the Council should seek to adopt whatever measures available to control, and if appropriate prevent, the use of potentially damaging unconventional gas exploration and extraction, as well as inappropriate geothermal exploitation, within Bath and North East Somerset.
1. To request that the Leader of Council and Chief Executive formally register the concerns of Council with the Department for Energy & Climate Change relating to unconventional gas exploration and extraction and geothermal exploitation within Bath and North East Somerset and neighbouring areas regarding their impacts on the Bath Hot Springs, the environment, the reservoirs of North East Somerset and other water supplies throughout the wider area.
2. To request that Cabinet ask Officers to continue to work on this issue within the Placemaking Plan and to produce a report, in advance of the completion of the Placemaking Plan, on the study/ies that informed the development of the planning policy framework for dealing with the potential impact of unconventional gas exploration and extraction, as well as geothermal exploitation within Bath and North East Somerset in the context of the National Planning Policy Framework, and report back to full Council. This will include a summary explanation of the potential impact and risks of unconventional gas exploitation and geothermal energy exploitation within Bath and North East Somerset, taking account of the report produced for B&NES by the British Geological Survey in October 2012.
3. As part of the report referred to in (2), requests that Cabinet report back to Full Council on measures available to the Council to control, and if appropriate prevent, the use of unconventional gas exploration and extraction and geothermic exploitation within Bath and North East Somerset.
4. To continue to work with Somerset County Council and other neighbouring authorities, and national Government, to examine the technical and environmental issues involved in unconventional gas exploration and extraction and geothermal exploitation.
5. To continue to support the appropriate development of renewable energy systems and improved energy efficiency in Bath and North East Somerset as set out in the draft Core Strategy in order to help achieve the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable sources of energy.
6. To request that the Members of Parliament for Bath and North East Somerset convey Council’s concerns to the appropriate Government Ministers.